New Penrith Emus coach Jeremy Paul has used his high profile connections in the sport to land the Shute Shield battlers a trial game against Super Rugby side, ACT Brumbies.
Paul, who spent a decade with the Brumbies from 1998 to 2007, will now coach against his former club when the Emus take on the two-time Super Rugby champions this Saturday, February 27 at Nepean Rugby Park.
Speaking with the Weekender, the former Wallabies international said the trial will be a good test to see where his side is at before the Shute Shield season opener on March 19.
“With my connections with Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham, I asked him if it were possible to send up their B-side, to give me a really good indication of where we are at,” Paul told the Weekender.
“I’ve seen a few Penrith games on tape from last year, but what can you take from the past? Nothing really.
“We’re trying to build something new here and we just want to be competitive.”
With the Brumbies kicking off their Super Rugby season tomorrow night in Canberra against the Hurricanes, they will be without many of their recognisable faces for their clash against the Emus. But despite the lack of star power involved, Penrith will still be in for one of their toughest matches of the year.
“The Brumbies are sending anywhere from six to 10 contracted players plus their best Under 20s players,” Paul said.
“This will give me a good indication at how long we can stay in a game against a really professional outfit.
“This will arguably be one of our toughest games of the year.”
The Emus versus Brumbies clash will headline a huge day of festivities for the club at Nepean Rugby Park, with the day’s action kicking off at 11am with a juniors clinic followed by a number of lower grades and Colts trials before the main game kicks off at 5pm.
“The boys are coming along exceptionally well from a commitment and attitude point of view at training,” Paul said.
“I will never accept what has happened here in the past, and neither will the players.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.